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Sky hobby gets wings
Yang Run has an expensive hobby - making model airplanes. Some of his models cost more than 10,000 yuan. But rather than letting his hobby drag him down financially, the 25-year-old mechanical automation major at Southwest Jiaotong University decided to turn it into a profitable business. He co-founded an aerial photography company in Chengdu, Sichuan, that earned 200,000 yuan in the first year.
Instead of playing with toys, Yang loved making models himself when he was little.
“My parents bought me model cars and airplanes, but I preferred using plastic bottles to make my own,” he says.
When he started middle school, Yang began putting even more effort into making model air-planes. Once, he locked himself up in his room to build a 5-meter-long, wooden hang glider. He covered the frame with his bed sheet as he couldn’t afford the proper material for the wings. Yang wanted to try flying the glider by jumping off a hill, but his father found out about his plan and thought it was too dangerous. “So my father destroyed the plane,” says Yang.
But this didn’t stop Yang from building model airplanes.
When he entered university, the mechanic and electronic know-how he learned in class helped him build more sophisticated models. He founded a model airplane club and became the best airplane builder on campus.
“My parents give me 1,000 yuan every month, of which I spend more than 700 on model airplanes,” says Yang.
He didn’t know his expensive hobby could actually help him make money until 2011, when he met his high school classmate Tang Yinlong who told Yang that aerial photography is a profitable business.
“One aerial photo can be worth 5,000 yuan,” Tang says. With Tang’s business knowledge and Yang’s mechanical expertise, the two founded an aerial photography company.
Yang spent another year making preparations. “For the first two months, I practiced my remote control skills, navigating the plane between trees. Then I spent 10 months adjusting the photography mechanism to get good pictures,” he says.
Although he suffered from hypoglycemia due to overwork, Yang never complained. “If this business idea succeeds, it could support my hobby. When I thought about that I felt motivated,” he says.